Living conditions

The "assembly centers" were hastily erected quarters located throughout the West Coast at fairgrounds, racetracks and other similar facilities. Conditions at these locations were appalling. People were housed in animal stalls and barracks with communal bathrooms and mess halls. Privacy was next to nonexistent. Most families lived in a 20-by-20-foot room separated from the next "apartment" by wood partitions that did not reach the ceiling. Shortages of food and deplorable sanitation were common. Overcrowding, uncertainty, and stress created tension in the "assembly centers," even as the demoralized camp inmates tried to improve living conditions.

Living conditions (279)

279 items
News Clippings (ddr-csujad-20-24)
doc News Clippings (ddr-csujad-20-24)
Newspaper clippings, circa 1942. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: WLM_01-45_01
Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. H. A. Strong, Electrolux Corporation, August 9, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-13)
doc Letter from Henry [Katsumi] Fujita to Mr. H. A. Strong, Electrolux Corporation, August 9, 1942 (ddr-csujad-23-13)
Letter from Henry K. Fujita to his boss Mr. H. A. Strong of the Electrolux Corporation in San Francisco dated August 9, 1942. Rich in details, the letter describes the physical layout of the Merced Assembly Center, the poor-quality construction of the barracks, the daily schedules, the camp organization and facilities, the hardships and illnesses and ...
An Oral History with Margaret Masuoka (ddr-csujad-29-25)
av An Oral History with Margaret Masuoka (ddr-csujad-29-25)
An interview with Margaret Masuoka, a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), conducted for the Japanese American Project at California State Fullerton's Center for Oral and Public History. Specifically, this interview provides insight to Masuoka's personal history dealing with the prejudice that she and her family faced due their Japanese ancestry; her family's settlement ...
An Oral History with Lillie Y. McCabe, Part II (ddr-csujad-29-17)
av An Oral History with Lillie Y. McCabe, Part II (ddr-csujad-29-17)
An oral history with Lillie Y. McCabe, an incarceree at the Santa Anita Temporary Assembly Center and the Granada (Amache) incarceration camp. This interview was conducted for the Japanese American Oral History Project by California State University, Fullerton. The interview covers the Anglo reverends and ministers who helped her while she was incarcerated at Amache, how ...
Ben Takeshita Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1000-467-5)
vh Ben Takeshita Segment 5 (ddr-densho-1000-467-5)
Memories of the day of mass removal and first impressions of the Tanforan Assembly Center
Notice to report to work (ddr-densho-25-78)
doc Notice to report to work (ddr-densho-25-78)
Mae Iseri received permission to work as a recreation leader at Pinedale Assembly Center.
Japanese American washing clothes (ddr-densho-36-36)
img Japanese American washing clothes (ddr-densho-36-36)
The Puyallup Assembly Center was composed of a number of blocks. Each block had a communal washroom, such as the one shown here.
Japanese Americans eating in a mess hall (ddr-densho-37-482)
img Japanese Americans eating in a mess hall (ddr-densho-37-482)
Original WRA caption: Arcadia, California. Meal time, cafeteria-style, for these children at Santa Anita assembly center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Japanese Americans serving food (ddr-densho-37-484)
img Japanese Americans serving food (ddr-densho-37-484)
Original WRA caption: Arcadia, California. Cafeteria-style assures promptness in serving meals at Santa Anita assembly center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees are transferred later to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Assembly center check-in (ddr-densho-37-584)
img Assembly center check-in (ddr-densho-37-584)
Original WRA caption: Salinas, California. Seated in family groups, evacuees of Japanese ancestry check in at Armory before moving into the Salinas Assembly Center. They will later be transferred to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from June Yoshigai (May 30, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-84)
doc Letter (with envelope) to Molly Wilson from June Yoshigai (May 30, 1942) (ddr-janm-1-84)
Handwritten letter to Molly Wilson from June Yoshigai (May 30, 1942). Envelope is postmarked but does not give a date from Chicago, Illinois.
Newspaper clipping
doc Newspaper clipping "Tanforan, 1942" (ddr-janm-4-42)
Newspaper clipping titled "Tanforan, 1942". The article was written by Soji Kashiwagi on December 17, 1984.
Horse stall at the Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-20)
img Horse stall at the Tanforan Assembly Center (ddr-densho-151-20)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. A near- view of a horse stall left from days when what is now Tanforan Assembly center, was the famous Tanforan Race Track. Most of these stalls have been converted into family living quarters for evacuated Japanese.
Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-25)
img Assembly center barracks (ddr-densho-151-25)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. Barracks for family living quarters. Each door enters into a family unit of two small rooms. Tanforan Center was opened two days before this photo was made. The truck seen coming down the dirt road is bringing bed-rolls and baggage to evacuees who have just arrived and are occupying these ...
Japanese American inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-50)
img Japanese American inside barracks (ddr-densho-151-50)
Original WRA caption: San Bruno, California. A close-up of an entrance of a family apartment. Note that the windows in this unit have been enlarged. Five people occupy two small rooms, the inner one of which is without outside door or windows.
Gene Akutsu Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1016-4-2)
vh Gene Akutsu Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1016-4-2)
Preparing for mass removal

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

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